This is not a throw-back post about my wild days of college. No, this is about growth. And celebration.
I stopped nursing Otis on March 4th. Approximately 2,003 days before that I found out I was pregnant with Matilda. Given that Nate and I wanted our kids to be close in age, this meant lots of pregnancy in a condensed amount of time. We were lucky enough to actually be able to make that happen. What that also meant, is that as a Mama who breastfed for the full year plus some, I have been pregnant or nursing a baby for 2,003 days.
My body has been growing babies inside my body. And outside. for TWO THOUSAND DAYS.
I felt like nursing was supposed to be the most natural thing in the world, but it felt so far from that. I had to work at it. And work some more. People encouraged me to quit—to try formula to give myself a break, but there was something about it that made me keep going. Perhaps it was that I felt like I was failing in every other way as a new mom, and THIS was something tangible I could succeed at. Or, because as I struggled with post-partum anxiety I felt like this was the way to keep me connected to my baby even when my emotions were getting the best of me. Days of crying from pain gave way to weeks of milk supply crashing—but then.
We figured it out, and we made it. All the way until she was 14 months old and I learned that we had baby #2 on the way.
With Baby #2, I was ready. Started pumping in the hospital and had all of the milk supplements on-hand and ready to go. No WAY was I having milk supply issues this go-round. And we didn’t. But you know what we did have? Mastitis. And thrush.
And little “One Boob Bea” who would only nurse on one side and call it good and leave her Mama to either pump and continue the increased supply or in pain—with mastitis and clogged ducts. I think we passed thrush back and forth for a solid 8 months. I got to learn new drugs like Nystatin and praise good health insurance that covered them.
Bea made nursing such a quick job that I didn’t really even have time to snuggle in to do it before she was done. That ended up paying in spades for the feedings in the wee morning hours.
And then Baby #3 came around, and I just assumed that my body would know what to do. Which I should know better by know—it is the first rule of parenting: never assume you know what will happen.
Two days after coming home from the hospital I called my good friend Allison in tears because Otis wouldn’t sleep. He was up all night crying, inconsolable, but would sleep all day. She gently suggested that perhaps he was hungry and was I sure that my milk had come in. No. No it hadn’t. I knew it in my mind, but at the hospital they said all was looking good so I didn’t even think about it (because I was chasing two other kids around).
But the third-time Mama kicked in. I made haste getting the supplement regime started, and we were off and running. And Otis was back to sleeping—very long chunks of time at a very young age.
I had a really hard time deciding ‘when’ to cut the cord with Otis. It is saying goodbye to a stage that we have been in for almost six years. An acknowledgement that our family is complete and there will be no more babies to grow. Nurse. Snuggle. Console. Watch become amazing human-beings. But the opportunity presented itself one weekend where I would be gone for the nighttime nurse for two nights in a row. Just like that we were done. Otis no longer connected to me in that way. Me no longer to him. I felt sad. And then…I felt free.
My body is back to being mine. I can eat what I want without thinking about how it will affect another tiny person. I can exercise and not worry about if I have enough calories to keep my supply up. Nursing isn’t for everyone. Some people can’t do it. Some don’t want to. And you know what? That is why there are very smart scientists that develop formula that can feed and nourish those kids. But for me, it was something I wanted to do and was lucky enough that my body worked with me to make it happen. And I am really proud of that. Yes, this body is CERTAINLY not the same as it was before all of this. But it brought me these three and that is quite a feat.